Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DANCERS AND BODY IMAGE, AGING AND SELF-ESTEEM


 One hour away from turning fifty six! Photo by Lauran Hoffman


 Spring has sprung and most women are now fully consumed with prepping for Bathing Suit Season...and that often includes going on unhealthy crash diets and beating themselves up emotionally because they don't look "perfect".

We dancers  have Costume Season all year round, so for us, this is a constant in our lives. We also work in a niche of the arts where there's a much  higher degree of our culture's worship of Youth And Beauty; and sometimes, we turn against ourselves because we feel we don't live up to the physical perfection we're supposed to embody.  The truth is, we all  ought to be able to see that health and talent should be our main priorities!

 I'm writing  this now because yesterday, on March 17, I turned fifty six. Yeah, that's right, i can now legitimately say I'm pushing sixty!  And proud of it, too.

Below is a re-post of a blog I wrote in March 2013, before I turned fifty four... maybe you can relate enjoy!


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Attention... You Are Hot!

This is your self esteem call-to-arms: step away from your computer, and take a look in the mirror: you are smokin’ hot.

 In the act of performing onstage, dancers leave themselves vulnerable and  open to critique of their performances, their music, costume choices, and of course, their physical beings.  While audiences and other performers usually praise, there are those who can be harsh, but it’s your own inner critic that is most brutal.

 For decades, through advertising and in the media, women in general have been held to an ever-changing, ridiculously  unattainable standard of beauty that is just about impossible to achieve.

 It’s pretty twisted- the genetic wonders on display as the penultimate of feminine beauty are also primped, preened and fixed up by a legion of experts, lit and shot by pro photographers at the top of their  field, and photo-shopped within an inch of their life.


 Because of this, we all have been made to feel that we are lacking somehow… and dancers have these feelings perhaps more than any civilian woman ever could!

 We’re too fat, too thin, too old, not old enough, too dark-skinned or so white we practically glow in the dark!

  1991: I thought I was fat and that my face was "too round'! 
Our faces are too haggy, too jowly, and too wrinkled. There’s way too much baby fat on our cheeks or not enough. Our eyes are the wrong color and shape, our noses are hooked or too short and stubby, our lips aren’t plump enough.

We have  no chin,  our necks are too short or too long,  there’s cellulite on thighs- plus our legs are too short, too thick, too hairy or knobby-kneed.  Our bellies are much  too round, too protruding and, along with our hips (which, of course are too wide) are covered in stretch marks.  Our butts are   too flat, too round , non-existent or too shelf-like. Our boobs are too big, too small, and too saggy.  Or our boob jobs didn’t turn out right!  Our thighs and upper arms are flabby, our knees are scarred, the knuckles on our fingers are too big, and our hair is the wrong color or texture.

Crazy?  You bet!

Shall I go on? I thought not.

 I don’t need to tell you that condemning yourself is neurotic, unproductive and harmful.  You already know it.  I already know it, but I do it sometimes too!  We all do. Don’t drink the Kool Aid.

 Stop it!!!

  Dancing is what makes you happy, it makes you whole, and helps you feel lovely. It’s a passion and a blessing- it’s not to be taken lightly. Some women don’t have the luxury of dance because they live in oppressive societies, or because they are infirm: gravely ill, crippled or maimed in some way, physically or emotionally damaged beyond repair.

In the many classes I teach all over the world, along with experiencing the sisterhood of dancing, I often see and hear women slighting  their abilities and disparaging their bodies.  This hurts my feelings, seeing so many people truly feel that they are lacking or not worthy.  You  are clumsy, you have two left feet, it takes you too long to learn choreographies or you can't improvise. You feel stupid and ugly.
2013: before I turned 54... I finally like how I look!

It's rare to  hear  dancers  talking about how talented they are,what a great performance they had, or  to simply mention that dancing is a  gorgeous gift that has been bestowed upon them.  

We need to change our internal conversations! 

Time marches on relentlessly,  and  though you will probably become a better dancer in the future, you’re probably never going be any hotter than you are now, right at this moment. If you don’t believe me, look at some old photos of yourself- from fifteen years ago- or from last week- any time you thought you were fat and ugly.

What the hell were you thinking…you probably could’ve ruled the world!

Give yourself some credit, cut yourself some slack, and help other women to see themselves as wonderful too. Respect your vessel- the whole, healthy body you have which makes such lovely shapes and patterns to music. You are living art!

 You are beautiful. You are.

 And yeah…you better believe it…

You are hot!   

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6 comments:

  1. This... I needed to hear it today. Thank you SO much!! <3

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  2. Thank you!! Your words have inspired me and I did not realize just how much I needed to hear them until now. -- thank you for sharing..

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  3. Happy Birthday Plez! ♥ You look Fabulous! ♥

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